Are you considering the issue of Boomers having to care for their aging loved ones in retirement?
You’ve probably done a good job with helping clients be ready for retirement age, but every financial professional needs to consider a massive problem we now face. Our oldest old are living longer than anyone expected and they can run out of resources. Their adult children might have to care for, pay for or take in their aging parents.
Years before, the parent probably extracted a vow from the adult child your client, (typically a daughter) “promise you’ll never put me in one of those homes”. And the daughter, without much thought replied, “Of course Mom. I’d never do that”. How time changes things.
The concept of “being put in a home” is vague, based on largely outdated notions our elders have of ugly warehouses for the poor, something conjured not just out of an English novel, but out of the way things once actually were in some places, long before Medicare and Medicaid existed to ensure at least some care for our elders. We did neglect older impoverished people and place them in poorly regulated homes.
Things are supposed to be better now, with the rise of public benefits, and government regulations over skilled nursing facilities, all designed to keep residents safe and in a somewhat dignified existence. The intended outcome of these regulations does not always meet reality. The cost of caregiving for all but the lowest income in our society is borne by the elders themselves if they have the funds or by their families if the parent has limited means.
Advisors may discuss with retirement-age clients that Medicare doesn’t cover all the costs of medical treatment that clients themselves may need as they age. But few advisors have the foresight to ask their clients if they anticipate also having to pay the cost of care and out of pocket medical expenses for their parents too.
We have a 94-year-old mother in law. She’s in decent health, and has the means to cover what she needs now and in the future. We’re among the fortunate ones. Years ago, we and my husband’s parents made a joint investment that pays enough income for her, now widowed, to live on. She can cover health emergencies, home care, expensive medications and whatever downturns her health may bring. She has savings as well. This is not how it works for the average person in our country. Perhaps your clients are wealthy but their parents might not be.
Some folks solve the issue of what to do by bringing the aging parent into their homes and providing or paying for care themselves. This multi-generation household approach is a cost-effective way to house an aging parent with limited resources and cover many expenses that would otherwise have to be borne by the elder who just might be low income by the time they reach the age of 94, like she did in my family.
Bringing in the aging parent to live with you is not a solution for everyone, but one worth considering. If you broach the subject with your Boomer clients, you can get them thinking about this. Longevity is increasing steadily and it is going to affect those whose parents live longer than anyone thought they would. The takeaway here is for you, the financial professional to ask them about it.
Here are some basic questions you should ask:
“Do you anticipate having to pay for support for anyone else during your retirement years? Are your parents living? How is their health these days? What would you do if they got low on funds and needed care? Have you thought about what it would cost to care for them?”
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